Archives May, 2009

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Drought Busting

Nothing pleases us more than to see two droughts ease up just as summer hits its stride.

Until very recently, Southwest Florida was gasping for water; choked by a three-year dearth of rainfall, with no let-up in sight—especially as our scorched landscape limped into Spring.  Local meteorologists shook their heads and predicted that the situation was likely to get a lot worse before it got better.  The month of May, they reminded us with their best professional hats on, is customarily among the driest of the year.

Then, just as looked like May might live up to its inglorious billing, came the rain.    Buckets of it.  Torrent after torrent, day after day of glorious rain—a full six weeks ahead of schedule. You couldn’t have imagined a more unlikely end to such a tenacious drought.  Yet even though the drought is by no means completely over, all indicators that the end is near are looking very good.   New rains come every day with the kind of regularity we haven’t seen in a long time.  Ground levels are rising steadily and the major rivers east of town—mostly dried-up riverbeds a few weeks ago—are filling up and flowing freely.  Things sure can change quickly around here.

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The Conservative Shift of Mortgage Lending

Wow! … You know the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same? That has been especially true with the changes to the secondary market (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) lending guidelines for residential mortgages.

We’re living with and through a very conservative shift in the secondary market’s credit requirements and a dramatic emphasis on the evaluation of a borrower’s income, assets and credit profile.

Some examples of what feels like an overly conservative swing in the underwriting evaluation would include a borrower’s need to address and explain any unusual deposits reflected on a bank statement (typically anything outside of what looks like a paycheck – explanations of deposits used to be limited to just large deposits but not anymore), obtaining written and verbal verification of employment several times during the processing of the loan even up to the day of closing, and explaining any and all credit inquiries on the credit report to ensure that no new debt has been incurred. (more…)

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Reinventing Ourselves

It was all in a day’s work for Steve Harney and Matthew Ferrara—two of the most sought-after guest speakers to the real estate industry.  Harney and Ferrara flew to Sarasota—at the behest of Michael Saunders—to address a gathering of more than 400 of her company’s agents and managers.  At the daylong event, themed “Reinvent Yourself,” the pair of experts told the agents plenty of things they wanted to hear; and a few they probably didn’t.

His reputation built on telling it like it is, Harney teed-off his provocative presentation by challenging his listeners to do no less than save the world.  “The world is counting on the U.S. to solve the global economic crisis,” he said. “The global economy won’t recover until the U.S. economy recovers; and that won’t happen until U.S. housing industry recovers.”  In other words, the agents assembled before him—who Harney acknowledged as being the undisputed experts in Southwest Florida—have it within their skill sets to transform the first stirrings of our local recovery into a full-scale global comeback.  “If not you,” he challenged, “Then who?”

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The Alliance of Foreclosed Properties and First-Time Homebuyers

There have been a number of articles lately addressing the union of bank owned properties and first-time homebuyers. On Friday, May 18th, RIS Media reports:

Value-conscious, first-time buyers have become key to the housing market’s recovery, and they are snapping up priced-right foreclosures despite the warts-and-all, sold-as-is condition of the properties. Half of the sales made in the year’s first quarter were to first-time buyers and almost half of all these sales were distressed properties, the National Association of Realtors reported. Distressed properties include foreclosures and short sales, which are private transactions in which a homeowner sells the property for less than the amount owed on a mortgage.

While experience shows this true to the most part – first time home buyers are the most active market for the REO’s we manage here in the Sarasota area – there is another trend that is not addressed. That is that the bank and corporate owners’ willingness in many cases to stick less stringently to marketing their properties in distressed condition.  More than half of the REO properties sold by the Michael Saundes & Company REO division have had some lender required repairs made by the bank/corporate owners to facilitate a sale. (more…)

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Michael Saunders & Company Reinvent Yourself 09 Photo Gallery

Over four hundred of the best and brightest Michael Saunders & Company agents, partners and speakers at the Reinvent Yourself 09 event held last week at the Chelsea Center in Sarasota, FL:

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The Changing Face of Real Estate Marketing

Much of the Michael Saunders & Company Reinvent Yourself 09 conference held last week pushed the notion that the fundamentals of the real estate industry, specifically the way we market property is and will be changing drastically over the near future. In fact if there is a bright spot to the housing and economic turmoil it is that it forces these changes to happen all the quicker: in the same way that higher fuel costs prompt more efficient vehicles, the evolved real estate agent is now leaner and smarter when it comes to marketing your home.

Out, are the single property advetisements in the newspapers and magazines – a quick appeasement for a seller, and not much else. Why would a potential home buyer wait until Sunday to look at one property in the newspaper when they can get instant gratification and look at all available properties on the market at once on the web?

In, are the targeted effects of social networking, otherwise known as the larest ongoing cocktail party on earth. Facebook, with over 275 million active users, now has a population greater than the 4th largest country on earth and is trailing only China, India and the United States in citizens. Bob Corcoran of Corcoran Consulting Inc. outlines some great techniques in a recent article on his website: (more…)

Drew Thomas of 107.9 WSRZ Interviews Speakers, Agents Prior to Reinvent Yourself 09

Drew Thomas interviews Drayton Saunders prior to Reinvent Yourself 09

Drew Thomas interviews Drayton Saunders prior to Reinvent Yourself 09

Updates from Reinvent Yourself 09:

Drayton Saunders discusses tactics with Drew Thomas of 107.9 WSRZ prior to the event in Sarasota, FL. Hear Drayton’s views on keeping customers on the pulse of the market through new communication methods below:

Drew Thomas interviews Drayton Saunders at Reinvent Yourself 09

Has Florida coming through the worst of the housing crisis? Listen to Steve Harney share his views on the market’s outlook and his call for leadership under difficuly circumstances:

Drew Thomas interviews Steve Harney at Reinvent Yourself 09

Michael Saunders and Matthew Ferrara discuss the connection between the marketplace, the consumer and the agent and what it means for the future of real estate:

Drew Thomas interviews Michael Saunders and Matthew Ferrara at Reinvent Yourself 09

CNN Money Reports U.S. Home Prices at Most Affordable Levels in 2 Decades

CNNMoney.com today reported that home prices across the U.S. are at their most affordable levels in 18 years:

Nearly 73% of all homes sold in the United States during the first three months of 2009 were considered affordable. That was the highest percentage ever reported by the 18-year-old Housing Opportunity Index, an analysis of markets compiled quarterly by the National Association of Homebuilders and Wells Fargo Bank.

While the article does state that the markets for new and existing home sales are still slow, they cite emerging optimism from homebuilders that the improved data – affordability, new homes sales up, pending home sales up – could indicate that the worst is behind us. Please click here for the full article.

As shown in our April Trends report last week, pending home sales for the region for April are up considerably: for Sarasota county, +18.44%; for Manatee count, +19.53%, for Charlotte county, + 16.91%.

That’s a Wrap! MSC Leaders Positioned for Success

Thursday’s ‘Reinvent Yourself 09’ conference was a huge success. With over 400 Michael Saunders & Company agents in attendance this company is now positioned for a huge leap forward. “Every year, we try to bring the best information to our agents,” said company president, Drayton Saunders. “Technology is changing the way business is done, and today is all about that change.”

What's so funny? Michael Saunders, Steve Harney, Matthew Ferrara and Drayton Saunders connect at 'Reinvent Yourself 09'

What's so funny? Michael Saunders, Steve Harney, Matthew Ferrara and Drayton Saunders connect at 'Reinvent Yourself 09'

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Social Networking and Customer Connection Breakouts Close Reinvent Yourself 09

To complete the conference, Matthew Haber—Director of Interactive Marketing—and David Gumpper—Director of Technology—moderated panels of breakout sessions to address the rising significance of social networking and technology in real estate.

Titled “Expanding Your Friendly Future,” Matthew’s panel included panel speakers Eric Bryn, Marc Rasmussen, and Anand Pallegar. Together, the panel discussed the importance of managing your online reputation through your social networking channels by touting the effectiveness of today’s most popular technology options: blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “You don’t have to understand the technology,” said Eric Bryn to those who may be unsure of transitioning to a technology-based business. “You have to understand the application of the technology to get the most out of your profession.”

Eric Bryn gestures during the Social Networking panel

Eric Bryn gestures during the Social Networking panel

David Gumpper’s session, titled “Connecting With My Customers,” highlighted the advanced new features of Outlook 2007. The Contacts feature in Outlook 2007 is actually a full-featured database, where each client contact can be tagged with categorical information, allowing useful mail merge lists to be quickly and comprehensively compiled in short notice. With this, our agents can take advantage of technology to keep in close contact with their clients and enhance their relationships electronically.

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